Review: RIO Trout LT fly line

RIO's dry fly specialist works above and beyond its job description

Working in a fly shop on a fabled trout river like the Delaware, it's my job to make sure our customers are outfitted with the right gear for their specific needs. With a discerning and well traveled clientele such as ours, you need to know your products and how anglers with different casting styles and skill levels will experience different rod and line combinations.

At least once a day I’ll grab a rod off the rack and make my way to the reel case were we keep a few reels rigged for rentals and testing. Over time I’ve had a chance to play with a fair number of rod/line combinations, and it seems that no matter the rod, I keep reaching for the Lamson with the RIO Trout LT (Light Touch). Most of the other guys in the shop share the same sentiment, and for the majority of customers looking to pick up a dry fly line or test out a rod, we often point to the RIO Trout LT first without hesitation. The Trout LT combines castability, control, and presentation like few other lines on the market, and it agrees with just about any rod you throw it with.

Available in Weight Forward or Double Taper in both the normal ($79.99; 80’) and InTouch ($99.99; 90’) families of Rio lines up to 6wt, the Trout LT features welded front and back loops, a DualTone color change to signify the lengths of the front taper/body (gold) and back taper/running line (olive green), a high floating MaxFloat tip, the MaxCast hydrophobic line coating, and is dressed with Rio’s AGENTX formula.

What works

Everything good about this line stems from its taper. The long front taper of the line yields softer landings and more delicate presentations than many of its competitors. The first 20 feet or so tapers down just enough to perform light presentations without sacrificing the weight you need for castability and control. With a well executed cast, the line and leader unfurl with a dainty plop of the fly rather than the shoot and plummet of shorter-headed, front-heavy lines. Instead of casting like a sock full of quarters, the Trout LT feels more like a long bullwhip, but instead of a sharp crack at the end, the energy at the apex of your cast straightens out the leader as the light, long front taper gently falls onto the water.

The Trout LT shines in the 25 to 50 foot range, but its long head also makes aerializing longer casts much easier than with a short-headed counterpart. At 47 feet, the head is a pleasure on most rod actions, and with the right combo and a little practice, even an average caster can learn to shoot the whole line consistently on the casting pond. You’ll need a good 15-20 feet of line out before the rod really starts to load, but it still performs in tight.

Due to its long front taper and back-ended weight distribution, it picks up and shoots while also mitigating the punchiness you get with a front weighted line. Aerial mends, reach and wiggle casts are also a breeze due to the control you get with the back-heavy taper.

The RIO Trout LT is designed to pick up and toss or feed line into the drift without disturbing the fly. Mending is direct and accurate, and you can shake out or water-feed line much easier than with your typical weight-forward taper. The back 17 feet (¼) of the head comprises nearly a third of the weight, accounting for 92 of the 47 foot head’s 242 grain total, which offers serious advantages in scenarios where you need to move line around on the water with minimal disturbance or imparted energy into the fly (read: most of them).

Between the InTouch Connect Core and the back-heavy taper, you get a lot of feel with this line. There’s not a lot of unwanted slack or stretch in the system, so everything is right at the end of your rod when you set the hook, cast, or pull your line from the water. The DualTone color change helps you maximize that control with an intuitive visual cue of the head length and how much line you’re working with at any given time.

If the RIO Trout LT were in high school, it would feel just as comfortable sitting with the jocks as it would with the nerds. Fast, slow, mid flex, tip flex — the line just gets along with everyone. It has performed phenomenally well with the majority of rods I’ve cast it on, which is a lot. With the snappiest and fastest action rods, it might be wise to select the normal instead of the InTouch version so that the line has some modicum of stretch to soften the cast a bit. It is a joy to cast on the big money rods like the Helios 3, Scott Radian, Sage X, G-Loomis Asquith, etc., just as much as it is on less expensive options.

While it excels at dry fly fishing, the Trout LT will toss an indicator and roll and single hand spey cast small streamers and soft hackles like a charm.

What doesn’t

For a number of reasons, some folks simply do better with a more aggressive front taper, and if you’re one of those folks—this line may not be for you. If you are a one rod, one line kind of guy/gal who fishes more bass and bluegills than trout—this line might not be for you. If you’ve never fished a dry fly in your life, and don’t plan on starting anytime soon—this line might not be for you.

Along these lines, most criticisms of the RIO Trout LT are more likely to do with the pairing of the rod, angler, or technique, than anything inherent in its design, leaving anything negative I could say about it seeming insubstantial. While it's not going to win any awards for chucking articulated streamers, RIO has never claimed it should. It will, however, do just about everything else you need on a trout stream.

Final Word

Following in the footsteps of back-weighted lines like the Wulff Triangle Taper, the Rio Trout LT offers excellent control, casts long, and lands lightly. It's a stellar, dedicated dry fly line that can do a little of everything.

Over the course of several months on the Delaware, I fished the InTouch WF5F paired with a variety of rods and loved every second of it. After my experiences with this line, I will very likely keep a reel spooled in perpetuity. It's everything you want in a dry fly line, and much more. If you’re looking for a purpose-driven dry fly line that goes well beyond its job description, do yourself a favor and pick up a RIO Trout LT.